Movies & TV Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for movie and tv enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

You know the old trope of how the person has a "backup plan of last resort" where in case of the person going missing or turning up dead, they have info that will be released.

How many scenes have we saw where the person says "If I do not call in every 24 hours, they system will email your secret to the paper ..." or something similar?

I for the life of me cannot remember what this is called. Help!

share|improve this question
up vote 10 down vote accepted

It is called a Dead Man Switch since it operates the same way that a physical Dead Man Switch works.

A backup plan in case of untimely death or incapacitation, used as a threat to protect the holder. If that person dies or fails to issue some form of communication within a set period of time, the plan goes into action automatically, making it in the interests of the threatening party to not harm that person. Provided, of course, that the threatening party knows about it. A common plot involving this trope is the switch is put in danger of being set off either by accident or by somebody who had no way to know about it.

share|improve this answer
Thanks! This has been bothering me all weekend and no amount of google searches would get me to the answer. – saunderl Sep 9 '13 at 3:04

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.